June 4, 2014 | by Chris Johnson
Supreme Court won’t stay Oregon marriage equality

Supreme Court, gay news, Washington Blade

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a stay on Oregon marriage equality (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key).

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Wednesday it won’t place a stay on same-sex weddings taking place in Oregon in response to a request from the National Organization for Marriage.

The court issued its decision against placing a stay on U.S. District Judge Michael McShane’s ruling against the state’s marriage ban without giving any justification for the determination.

“The application for stay presented to Justice Kennedy and by him referred to the Court is denied,” the notice states.

Two days before oral arguments in the case, NOM sought to enter into the Oregon marriage equality case as intervening party. McShane denied the ability of the group to take part in the case prior to his ruling.

Nonetheless, NOM sought a stay on the marriages from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which denied the request. After taking the request to the U.S. Supreme Court, a stay was once again denied.

James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project, said the decision is a victory for marriage equality across the nation.

“With marriages continuing in Oregon, we have 44 percent of the country living in a freedom-to-marry state: same-sex couples are now part of marriage in America today,” Esseks said. “Across the country, more and more Americans are embracing the truth that their friends, family, and neighbors in same-sex couples deserve the protection and dignity that only come with marriage.”

NOM had requested the stay from U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is responsible for stay requests for the Ninth Circuit. Based on the notice, Kennedy apparently referred the matter to entire the court.

On Monday, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenbaum filed a response to the request, saying NOM “failed to meet any of the criteria” it must establish to obtain a stay. John Eastman, chair and counsel for NOM, fired back in a reply brief, noting the high court already placed a stay on a similar ruling that granted same-sex marriage in Utah.

After the stay was denied, Eastman said in a statement the decision is still not final because the organization has appealed its request to intervene before the Ninth Circuit.

“It’s important to recognize that the Supreme Court has not decided the merits of the underlying issue,” Eastman said. “NOM has filed an appeal of the trial judge’s decision to prevent us from intervening in the case to defend Oregon’s marriage amendment. That appeal is on track, with briefs due in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal in August and September, and oral argument sometime afterwards. We will continue to press this case because we believe that the people of Oregon are entitled to a vigorous defense of marriage, and because it is in the public interest to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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